Planning a trip abroad with the family can be stressful. From finding family-friendly accommodation to getting all your travel documents in order, there’s a lot to think about.
As an exciting yet relatively hassle-free option, the United States of America is a top choice when travelling with kids. For English speakers, the lack of a language barrier makes everything that bit easier. Communication will never be an issue, and you won’t have to worry about things getting lost in translation.
Secondly, UK citizens (and passport holders from 38 other countries) don’t need a visa to go to the United States on holiday. As long as you’re staying less than 90 days, you can travel with an ESTA. It’s all online and cheaper than a traditional visa. As someone who’s spent a lot of time (and money!) on visa applications, this is music to my ears! Find out more about what an ESTA is and how to get one for you and your family.
In fact, the most difficult part of planning a family trip to the States is choosing where to visit. There’s no shortage of family-friendly activities to explore, so narrowing it down can be a challenge.
To help you out, I’ve put together recommendations for interesting places to visit in the US with kids, plus some practical tips for dining out and getting around. Let’s get started!
Exciting places to visit
The US is brimming with family-friendly activities. You and your kids can enjoy an action-packed few days at the top attractions, and then kick back and relax at the beach. This vast and varied country offers the best of both worlds.
Orlando, make memories that will last a lifetime
This may be an obvious choice but, let’s face it, no family guide to the US would be complete without Walt Disney World Resort, Florida.
There’s really no place like it. Kids (and adults) get so excited to meet their favourite Disney characters. There are also lots of rides and attractions suitable for the whole family. Just be sure to make an itinerary, and stick to it!
As a huge fan of the books and films, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios is, in my opinion, unmissable. In fact, I think I enjoyed this one even more than the kids! You’ll get to visit Hogwarts and Diagon Alley, and even meet Hagrid.
Although I find this hard to believe, apparently some people are not Potter fans (gasp). If that’s you or your kids, there are plenty of other options at Universal Studios, including Jurassic World and the Dream Works Theatre.
It’s an experience you and your children will remember forever.
Fun in the sun at the beaches of California
The attraction parks of Orland are fun but intense. You’ll want to balance it out with a more relaxing destination. Somewhere where you can enjoy some time in the great outdoors and enjoy nature. If you’re staying on in Florida, there are plenty of beaches to choose from, including the famous Miami Beach.
However, California is another family favourite. Whilst remote beaches are ideal for a romantic getaway, when travelling with kids practicality comes first. That’s what makes places like Santa Monica ideal.
Not only are the beaches wonderful, but there are also tonnes of facilities nearby. In Santa Monica, you’ll find an attraction park on the pier, Santa Monica Aquarium, and Santa Monica Playhouse, a theatre with family-friendly shows. There are also shops, markets, and everything else you need for a smooth family holiday.
Other options in California include Santa Barbara and San Diego.
Eating out with kids in the United States is easy. They keep the same timetable as in Britain, so you won’t struggle to find somewhere to have dinner before the toddler’s bedtime. What’s more, restaurants usually offer a family-friendly service, with most providing children’s menus.
Many places also have play areas, colouring in, and puzzles to keep the little ones entertained.
The type of food on offer will generally be in line with what you’d find back home, so there should be something for even the pickiest eaters. If you have older kids who fancy something off the ‘grown-ups’ menu, most eateries will be happy to serve up a smaller portion.
Do check out the farmers’ markets if you’re planning to do some cooking or pack picnics for day trips. Farmers’ Markets are really popular in the US, and they’re the best places to pick up quality produce at the best prices. Get the kids involved and let them choose the fruit and veg.
Getting around the US
The thought of getting around a foreign country with your children can be daunting. However, in the US it’s relatively straightforward. Whether you’re planning to hire a car, use public transport, or take domestic flights, you shouldn’t have any issues.
Reputable car hire agencies should be able to provide a car seat if you need one. Make sure you mention it when booking, and you’ll probably have to pay a bit extra.
To avoid the dreaded ‘are we there yet’ from the back seat, taking a domestic flight is usually better when covering longer distances. Babies usually travel free on domestic flights in the US, and some airlines offer discounted rates for toddlers and children.
If taking a train, children aged 2 to 12 travel half price for every fare-paying adult. Train travel in the US is ideal with kids, they’re comfortable, modern, and generally have toilets and café services.
I hope this has given you plenty of reasons to go to the US for your next family holiday. Time to get planning a trip to remember!